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9 April 2009
Today, the Federal Court has found that the conditional approval for the proposed Gunns Bell Bay pulp mill was validly granted by former environment minister Malcolm Turnbull, under national environment law.
The approval conditions required Gunns to submit an environmental impact management plan before the project could proceed.
This court judgement, combined with my decision earlier this year not to give final approval for this mill until all of the required environmental studies and other necessary work has been completed, provides certainty for all parties about the legal validity of Mr Turnbull's approval.
As I said in January, I will not grant final approval for this mill unless I am absolutely satisfied that we have robust information about the potential impacts of the mill's effluent discharge on Commonwealth marine waters and absolute confidence in the proposed management and response strategies that are required to put in place by Gunns to protect the environment.
Gunns is required to complete this work before resubmitting the outstanding modules (L, M and N) of the required Environmental Impact Management Plan for my final consideration, informed by the advice of the Independent Experts Group, by March 3, 2011.
This will ensure that we will have a full and comprehensive suite of information and scientific data upon which I can make a final decision on whether the remaining modules will ensure that the mill has no adverse impacts on matters of national environment significance and specifically, Commonwealth marine waters.